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Need to write a press release? Catch me on this webinar Friday, 9/19!

If you’ve ever struggled to write a press release–or wanted to write one but didn’t know where to start–this webinar’s for you!

Tune in Friday, Sept. 19 for this free webinar hosted by Teresa Cleveland of The Entrepreneur’s Toolbox to learn more about writing a press release you can then use to market your company, product or service in a variety of ways.

For more details or to register, visit: http://theentrepreneurstoolbox.com/press-releases/

 

Content Marketing Isn’t New — And It’s Not for Everyone

This Entrepreneur compilation of experts discussing marketing trends to avoid is packed with advice from some industry luminaries, such as Peter Shankman and Jim Joseph. But the quote that caught my attention was this one from Ilise Benun of Marketing-Mentor.com:

“I’m peeved most lately by all the people treating ‘content marketing’ like it’s brand new. We’ve all been marketing ourselves with content forever! I’ve been publishing an email newsletter, doing speaking engagements and writing articles and books for more than 20 years with the goal of sharing useful information and positioning myself as an expert. It used to be called ‘marketing.’ Now it’s ‘content marketing’ and everyone thinks they have to do it. Not true! It’s not right for all businesses, and it’s a lot of work!”

Yes, content marketing is all the rage all of a sudden, but she’s so right that we’ve been doing this forever. In PR, we create content and try to get others to create it, as well. This all feeds content marketing. Every press release, every news article, every success story, every newsletter–it’s ALL content and it ALL emanates from the marketing/PR department.

The other point she makes is also important–let’s break it down into two parts. First, she says content marketing isn’t right for all businesses. True again. Should every company be spending time and money creating content? No, probably not. For some, there are wiser ways to spend the marketing dollars. And then, beyond that, she says, “….and it’s a lot of work!” Right! I think this can be glossed over at times. There are a lot of businesses who hear about content marketing and think, “Oh, yeah, that’s the ticket!” without realizing how much work it actually is. When you think about the hours it takes to create an article or write an e-book, for example, it’s extremely time consuming and requires someone with the right skillset to collect the information, write it, edit it and then issue it via the right channels. And then, will anyone respond? Will anyone read it and become a prospect or a buying customer? There’s no guarantee. For smaller businesses, it can be an overwhelming prospect. (In an upcoming post, I’ll provide some examples of content marketing that’s simple to do for small businesses.)

So, it’s good to remember that content marketing has been with us for a while now. You’re probably already doing it, whether you call it that or not. And while it’s great for some companies, it’s not for everyone. Take time to think and carefully examine your needs and goals—and your budget—before you hop on the content marketing bandwagon.

Without Media Relations, Is It Really PR?

This post by Geoff Livingston caught my eye this week:

PR Cannot Escape Media Relations. In this post, Livingston talks about the inescapable connection between PR and media outreach and how some in the PR profession struggle with this.

This struck such a chord with me, because I, too, came to a point in my PR career when I was really resistant to continue doing media relations. I struggled with this—I’d really rather just write, I told a few trusted  PR-savvy colleagues. “Well, then, is that still PR?” some of them replied.

So, I took some time to think. When I looked closer at the needs of my clients, I began to realize what an integral part of PR media relations is. What did my clients really want, in many cases? Media coverage. And why? Because media coverage:

  • Adds to a company’s credibility
  • Raises visibility
  • Paves the way for your sales force
  • Is shareable
  • May be repurposed
  • Feeds content marketing

When you think about all that media coverage can do for a company, it makes sense that businesses are looking to include media outreach in their PR efforts.

So, instead of distancing myself from media relations, instead I embraced it. And what have I found over the years since? This has become a differentiator for me. I don’t how many PR pros I’ve met who say, “Oh, I don’t really do media relations.” Then, how can you call yourself a PR practitioner, I would ask. As Livingston mentioned, “You can run, but you can’t hide” from media relations.

Further, I get the impression that some PR practitioners tend to look down at media relations—almost as if it’s something beneath them. This was what I encountered when I worked at an agency, as well. The “smile and dial” approach was often used, which is probably why people didn’t enjoy doing it. And, it would be assigned to the most junior person on the team…further demeaning it and its value to the client. If this is the most important thing to the client, why would you look down on it and assign to a junior team member? If it’s so important, as Livingston points out, wouldn’t you want to assign to someone who has some experience and even skill doing it?

“I believe a media relations pro or agency that can open those doors and facilitate that story breakthrough is even more valuable today than ever before,” writes Livingston. “Practicing public relations without media relations is much like playing the lottery. Assuming the media will stumble upon your business story may as well be a raffle, one that loses probability every year.”

As long as media relations provides value to clients, it will continue to be a vital part of PR. “PR pros who no longer want to offer media relations could position their service offering a little differently. They can clearly offer marketing communications services, or social media marketing or simply content,” Livingston continues. I like this line of reasoning. And they can leave the media relations to those of us who understand its value and truly embrace it.

 

Five Midyear Money-Saving Tips to Cut Your PR Costs

July marks the midpoint of the year, when many businesses assess budgets and begin forecasting expenditures for the remaining months as they start to plan for 2015. In the spirit of budgeting, today’s blog post focuses on tips to help you save money on your PR efforts.

You may not realize that there are free resources out there to take advantage of. Of course, there are some lower cost paid options, as well, if you have some budget but don’t want to break the bank.

Here are five categories of  helpful PR resources, many of them free, to assist you with your efforts:

1) For reporter queries: Here are three resources you can sign up for free that send out email daily with reporter queries (reporters looking for people to interview). Anyone may respond, as long as the guidelines are followed:

  • HARO: Everyone’s an expert at something. Sharing your expertise may land you that big media opportunity you’ve been looking for. http://www.helpareporter.com/
  • Pitchrate: Simply register as an expert, and then when you see a request that’s appropriate for your expertise, “make a pitch.” That will send your pitch to the journalist making the request. http://www.pitchrate.com/
  • SourceBottle: Exclusively focused on topics around women’s interests, including beauty, business, home and lifestyle, health, parenting and relationships. http://www.thesourcebottle.com/us-can/

2) For awards and speaking opportunities: IT Memos: This service provides a complimentary subset of award and speaking opportunities geared toward the IT industry (the paid service provides even more opportunities): http://itdatabase.com

3) For research: Take advantage of Google. Use it to research to see which reporters and publications are writing about your competitors and your industry. Also use it to research publications that might be a fit and then check editorial calendars for opportunities.

4) Press release services: Issue press releases free via these wire services. There are many, but these are the two I use most often:

  • PR.com, http://www.pr.com/. This one gets the news on the search engines; note there’s a 24-36 hour lag time on the release actually being posted, so plan ahead.
  • PRLog.com, http://www.prlog.org/. This one allows you to add a photo and/or video at no charge. You can choose to issue the release instantly or set a date/time.

And, if you have the budget, here are three services that charge to issue press releases:

5) For editorial calendar opportunities: To find editorial calendar opportunities, here’s a free resource:

You may also visit each publication’s site. Many list their editorial calendar online (sometimes it can be found under “Advertising” or “Media Kit”), so it’s possible to build your own calendar of opportunities that may be a fit for free. Paid services are also available such as MyEdCals, http://www.mymediainfo.com/myedcals.html.

 

My Holiday Gift—10 Ideas to Pump Up Your PR and Marketing Efforts in 2014

Today’s blog post is my holiday gift to you—here are 10 ideas to pump up your PR and marketing efforts in 2014:

1) Try a press release: If you’ve never issued a press release or if it’s been a while, find a reason to issue one in the new year. Press releases help search engine optimization (SEO) and can be used in a number of ways to help market your product, service or company.

2) Reach out to local publications in your area: If you haven’t reached out to your local media,  be sure to consider that in 2014. Most cities have a major daily paper, as well as smaller community newspapers and magazines that are specific to certain suburbs. You can also try local TV and radio, if your story lends itself to broadcast media.

3) Sponsor an event: Have you tried sponsoring any charitable events, perhaps in conjunction with the types of businesses you’re trying to attract as clients? If you attach the company to a benefit or charity, that could attract potential clients’ interest.

4) Try social media: There’s always social media—every smaller business probably needs to do more here. Start, if you’re not doing any, by choosing one or two platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Facebook, or beef up your efforts, if social media is already in your marketing mix.

5) Online news area: Add an online news area to your site, if you haven’t done so. This can be an area for press releases and news stories about your company. You can also add a downloadable “press kit” with more information on the company, team bios, photos, logos, product shots and other material. This makes it easy for reporters who may want to cover you to grab what they need. It’s always PR’s role to make their job easy!

6) Create case studies: Position yourself as an expert by creating case studies and/or white papers to distribute not only to the media, but to potential customers and other influencers in your industry. Content marketing continues to be all the rage, and this is perfect example of that.

7) Speak to increase credibility and visibility: Speaking engagements are a great way to attract the attention of potential clients and positions you as the expert. It’s important to select the appropriate venues, so do your research on local, regional and national trade shows and other industry events that accept speaker proposals.

8) And the award goes to: Awards programs are fairly easy to implement and can help attract attention to your product, service or company. If you win an award, it makes great marketing material! You can tout it on your site or issue a press release and forever after be known as the “award-winning” company! Think of Tom Hanks—“Two-time Academy Award winner” always precedes his name!

9) Reach out to vertical media: Don’t overlook media outreach to industry publications and/or bloggers, selecting those publications and blogs that your potential customers are reading.

10) Network like you mean it: Networking isn’t really in the PR category, but for referral-based businesses, this should be an obvious one. Be sure to dedicate the time to do it and select the events your potential clients attend. Get involved in an organization or two at a deeper level to really get to know people. I’ve seen how his pays off over time to keep business coming your way.

Just a few ideas to get you started…please feel free to comment with your own ideas or questions. Wishing you the best for the holidays and a successful and happy 2014!